Home Automation Podcast Episode #63: An Industry Q&A With Matthew Cwiokowski
Discussing challenges of integrators in 2019
This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Matthew Cwiokowski. Recorded live on Wednesday, February 6th, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. EST.
About Matthew Cwiokowski
Matt's background includes working with Elexa Consumer Products as their CTO, helping bring new technologies to the market, including Guardian Leak Prevention System, and Dome a line of Z-Wave products.
In 2010, Matt and two other colleagues founded the Chicagoland automation company, Avidia, with a goal to create a more focused, hands-on approach to home automation.
At inception, Matt managed Avidia’s programming and system design efforts. In 2018 Matt and Kamil bought their 3rd partner out and Matt assumed the role of CEO where his role involves leading the company forward through client-focused sales and marketing activities.
Here are some of the topics Ron had the opportunity to discuss with Michael Cwiokowski
- The importance of branding for an integrator
- Avidia's approach to reorganizing their accounting platforms through Quickbooks and D-Tools
- How Matt balances various his business ventures of being a CTO with a product company and running an integration firm
- Guardian by Elexa's Smart WiFi Leak Prevention System
Ron: Hello everybody. Ron Callis here with another episode of Automation Unplugged. This is show number 63. I hope you're having a great day and a great week. I'm actually struggling with my voice a little bit. I was out I'm going to put the, I'm gonna put the guilty parties on the scope. You know what, I set up the wrong one. Let me show you here. I was out last night here in Fort Lauderdale with the gang from Pro Source. So there's all the guilty parties and we had dinner and went out afterwards to this, you know, nice place called the rooftop. And I was out a little bit past my bedtime, so my voice is suffering as a result. So I'll do my best here, but I am excited to be with each and every one of you. Let me come over to Facebook just to make sure that we are actually streaming into the page. Ah, so stand by. Let me see here. Let's see if we're there. We are live. Okay, cool. All right, well let me bring in our guest. We have let me go. This is me and we have a great guest. We have Matt from Avidia out of Chicago and actually Matt is also with Guardian and he's with Elexa Dome. Matt has his hand in a number of different companies and we're going to have a fun conversation. Matt, how are you sir?
Matt: Very good. Very good. Thank you for having me.
Ron: How is the weather up there in the windy city today?
Matt: Today it's pretty good. Yesterday we had snow, rain and sun on the same day. So the regular winter in Chicago
Ron: Regular winter. Is it at least above zero degrees Fahrenheit?
Matt: Yes it is now we survived the deep freeze. And right now we are in thirties, so enjoying summer.
Ron: Got it. Well I saw traveling through social media over the last few days. There's a, and I think I sent it to you, Matt. There was a newscaster from a Chicago television station that put out this hilarious parody of Frozen as he was going through Chicago and complaining about the cold weather. It was pretty funny.
Matt: It was hilarious. When you go through it, it's not very hilarious.
Ron: Yeah, no no. I had my share of cold weather. That's why I'm in Florida. JJ says hi. Hey JJ. How are you sir? And let's see here. Chris Gamble says hell-raiser. I don't know if he's talking to you or me, but one of us is apparently a hell-raiser. I've been known to raise a little hell every now and then. But I try to keep that to a minimum these days. I'm a married man. I have a 10-year-old son. I have a business to run. So we keep the hell-raising to a minimum, pretty tame hell-raising. So Matt, first of all, many of our audience, they may not know you. And I always like my guests to kind of talk about their backgrounds, where they came from, how they entered the custom integration business. And you, you have a particularly, you know, fascinating background and do you mind sharing that with the audience?
Matt: No problem. Matt Cwiokowski. I own an integration firm in Chicago, Northern suburbs of Chicago. We've been in business for eight years. We are a little strong at this moment active evangelists of Control4. And many other brands. We do a majority of our businesses focus about six, seven different zip codes focusing on a very high-end residential. I have my background in Crestron of from back in the day when I worked for other integrator companies before starting my own business. And summer around four years ago, I was introduced to consumer manufacturing consumer product development. I joined a venture with Elexa consumer products as they were trying to develop DIY home automation products. And they had not a lot of knowledge about home automation. So I joined a team to assist them with the knowledge and with the product design. And in four years we have developed two lines of products. One is dome home automation. This is a Z-Wave line, a line of Z-Wave accessories or DIY systems as well as any commercial systems on a market that is, they're using Z-Wave. And then in the midst of developing those Z-Wave lines, we developed Guardian. Guardian is a water damage mitigation system. And we took that idea specifically from a struggling as a CI and security firm with plumbers when you install an inline valve controller to shut off the water. And we knew that's not the best way to do it. So we developed a product that mounts on top of the water main, not requiring security and CI people to cut the pipe and call the plumber. You can basically slide it on. We made it so easy that we focus the product on DIY but not forgetting about the professional or professional market. And allowing them to integrate this with different systems and deploy the systems as well. So at this moment that's, you know, my, my own AV business and then the products and what you're looking at is right now the dome websites very funky unique Z-Wave accessories. And when we developed the product, we made it specifically for the CI market functionality. So just to give you a couple of examples, when you look at the motion sensor, it has settings to allow the user to change when the emotion is going to be activated, how many times per minute, when is the non-motion being activated? Sirens have different chimes for doorbells, for opening doors and for alarms. And so when we designed a product, we made it easy for the consumer but also usable and advanced enough for the CI because that's where our heart is really.
Ron: So you also, Matt then are involved with the Guardian product. And I'm just flashing that up on the screen and I want to get more into that. And I want to get into kind of your background as well, running Avidia along with your business partners. Well, what I would love to hear just again for the sake of our audience and so I'll try to get there from a different direction. What got you into this industry. How did you land in this industry? Why aren't you doing something else someplace else?
Matt: So when I got out of high school, my dream was to be a car engineer. And before I wasted my parents' money, I said to myself, you know, we'll have 12 months of summer, let me try this. So I went and worked for a body shop mechanic, other stuff. And I just hated that. I realized that I love driving and looking at cars, not another working with them. So then I was struggling what to do. And one of my friends said, why don't you come work with me? We install speakers in the homes and install TVs. And I said, what speakers in the ceiling? And that's when I terminated my first component connector. And then hang my first Panasonic display plasma and I fell in love with the industry. Jumped few companies got introduced to Crestron bleeding from my hands and having some grayer hair. Oh, got some experience. Until this day. I would say the best market I can imagine to grow and to have fun in. Challenging, but very fun.
Ron: So you, you started out on the installation side of integration from there in the Chicago market.
Matt: Correct. Very small firm. You know basically making connectors was the clean job for the owner of the company and I was pulling wires, the standard story and then the company expanded. I switched to a different, bigger company where I was leading projects. I was the lead Crestron programmer. Then managing all the projects. Then about eight years ago opened up my own business in the same territory. Went kind of back again to, you know, installation, programming, sales, business management, and somewhere between sales and business management we started the product development as well.
Ron: I see, I see. Okay. So at what point, so, all right, so let's, let's maybe look at first the integration business because that's what you started eight years ago. So I now I'm going to bring out that website and if I can figure out my technology here where is it? There it is. Okay. All right. Sometimes I'm slow. People just bear with me. And so there's the Avidia website. And so you decided to launch this business with your partners. And can you just describe at a high level, kind of the characteristics of this business? What type of work do you do? What type of projects do you take on? What's your primary, maybe some of your bigger lines that you represent?
Matt: Yeah, so we specialize in custom and semi-custom approaches. Back in the day, my journey of our business was partnerships with builders. We do manufacture our own acoustical panels in house. And so a lot of the builders included a custom home theater that we designed and put together. And beyond that we were always very good on the integration parts. We got the training of that with Crestron putting together systems based on Crestron and doing full home control. And so what we really are good at is the big projects with the hardware lighting, with hardware lighting, with shading, which would you know, 24 and above audio zone distribution system. And somewhere in the midst of fighting with deploying Crestron systems, we got introduced to Control4, and we opened that branch up and we learned by trying that we can deploy big systems as well with Control4. So now we have like two branches. But our sweet spot is full home integration. And we also are finding a niche market in the lights commercial by deploying Control4 systems in restaurants. We deployed I would say five or six very big systems in a residential nightclub scenario and they came out beautiful. We really enjoyed doing that and we are looking to expand on this idea as well.
Ron: Awesome. I just had a request for you, I'll throw it up on the screen. JJ says, clean site is crucial. Yours is tight. Who designed that?
Matt: You know, there is this guy very hard to work with. But, I can give you his number. You know we started working with One Firefly four or five years ago I would say around every integrator we've been a challenge by Ron about marketing importance of marketing. I did not believe in it. I thought that spending this much money per month was a complete waste. And then I joined a consumer product development. I was working with three different marketing firms and I saw the power of branding. I saw the power of digital marketing. And when I got back actively in my business lately, that was the first thing I did. I went in opened Slack account, called Ron to tell him that I will be reaching out to him soon and subscribe to the tools. So those are the three things that I did.
Ron: And bit off upgrading your accounting system, right?
Matt: Yeah, yeah. Because when we try to integrate D-Tools in QuickBooks, we saw how messy our QuickBooks was. So we and this January, we, last month we started a new QuickBooks with the launch of D-Tools. So my hands are still shaking a bit, but we've done it. We are passing through it and now we very soon are going to be introducing new Avidia brand. Me and Ron have been working on for a long time. And it's going to be a very exciting refresh and a completely new marketing strategy.
Ron: So just a little bit about that, cause we're gonna, you know, we are going to unveil that to the world in the next few months. But just at a high level, your brand of Avidia had been out on the street in Chicago on your vehicles, on your literature, on your business cards. It's been out there for years and yet you and your partner Camille decided to really launch into 2019 with a refreshed focus on your image and your message. Can you just, you know, why did you do that? What kind of, what were your thoughts about updating or refreshing? Whereas I'll just point out many in this industry, maybe don't touch their marketing for decades or refresh it.
Matt: So, you know, I looked back into it and then tried to answer the question why? And what I think is that we start in an integrated industry almost like a contractor. We work with plumbers, electricians, painters, you know carpenters and we think of ourselves as technology experts, but we are part of the construction business. So somewhere in my head mentally, I was lucked into, I'm just a contractor. No electrician is not marketing, a plumber is not marketing. We just, you know, do a good job and hope for the best clients. And then when I started working with consumer products and I saw the prides behind the brands, the team working to build up the brand and the product, I came back and I said, this is no different than what we are doing. The image, the marketing of, and the, the college or the messaging behind the brand is as important as local business. And it is in a nationwide business and it's so much easier to do. Let me put it this way, it's hard to develop the brand, but to use the brand and to get the outreach in our small areas, you know, a few zip codes, this is pretty inexpensive compared to one going after all 51 states. So that's, I think that's where my brain clicked. And I think us as integrators, we have such a knowledge and we deal with such a complicated system that we have to realize that we are so much more than just a contractor. And we have to do a better job on marketing debts to our clients and exposing our knowledge and our capabilities in our local market.
"Hopefully for those of you out there watching or listening, you know, that perhaps strikes a cord that might cause you to reevaluate, what's the message or the look in the field that you're giving your existing customer base and all of those people that are then checking you out."
Ron: No, I think that is interesting. And I, and hopefully for those of you out there watching or listening, you know, that perhaps strikes a cord that might cause you to reevaluate, you know, what's the message or the look in the field that you're giving your existing customer base and all of those people that are then checking you out. Maybe they'd been referred to you, but they haven't met you yet. Are you sending the right message and are you sending a message that you're proud of? And I commend Matt and Camille for taking a good, fresh hard look at that. Now as if running an integration firm is not complex enough or rot with enough challenges at some point a number of years ago, you also took on a role in a technology company as their CTO. And if I'm misstating that, correct me and you were developing those dome products and then you also were developing the Guardian product. And so I'm gonna throw that up on the screen. Can you just talk about kind of that balance of the do it yourself market, which you're serving through that company and the custom market which you're serving through your integration company. So I'll throw up the dome. Actually, you know what, let me throw out Guardian kind of made me tell the audience what is that? And then you know, we'll kind of look at the, do it yourself first. Custom.
Matt: Yeah. So when you look at this video it's gonna this is gonna reset. Just keep it there. I think that's a hero shot video
Ron: For those that are going to listen to this in the future on the podcast. Tell us, what are they seeing here, Matt?
Matt: Yeah, so this is again guardian.com. So what are you're looking at is a, we called it internally blue liver. Cause that's what the design looks like. But basically what it is is actually created, look, this is a water main in your home. You basically close it, you slide in the actuator right on top of the valve. You clamp the little arms with your hands and from now going forward, this device can control the valve and we'll know if it's open, if it's closed, then will know if it gets stolen. And there are leak detectors that you are paired directly to develop controller. And whenever a leak detector detects freezing temperature or water, they will automatically shut off the valve for you and send a notification to a consumer on the app that there was a leak detected. This is a wifi product. So the development controller connects to wifi to get the reach to the app and the leak detectors, they have extremely long-range and very long battery life. So a standalone product that we are right now opening to a CI market with local wifi API on UDPTCP. And then we are also introducing exclusively to a CI market, a device that is called a bridge. And it basically has relays and IO's on it so you can hook it up directly to a security panel. And when you, let's say when you arm security panel, you can program dependable to close the relay and it will close the valve automatically. And all of that is done wirelessly between that little bridge device and the valve controller. So what we are trying to do is give the integrator and a security guy another avenue to make a profit on the unique devices like this. And the really cool thing about this is that you are looking at $200 valve controller compared to inline. Let's say, ah,
Ron: Control4 has an inline thing?
Matt: It's an inline solution Z-Wave avail that it's 750 plus, you have to get the plumber. Here we are looking at the item and $200 range. Installation for any installer is nothing. It's you saw it, you just clamp it on, download the app and configure it. So it's a very unique way of making your integration firms stand out with a solution.
Ron: How does the integrator buy this? Do they buy, do you set them up directly so they can purchase this and you ship to them? Or do they buy through distribution or how does an integrator?
Matt: They can set it up directly? If you guys are looking to test this out is at ADI on ada.com and at ADA stores also. You can find it at Worthington.com. And it's also available on Amazon business. Amazon business prices a little bit higher than, than Worthington or ADI. But that's a very convenient way to get a unit and try out.
Ron: Interesting. Yeah. JJ was just asking here. I think you just answered that. He was saying how much and is it on Amazon?
Matt: So this, the unit that we are selling on Amazon for consumers is $399. It's a developed controller process, leak detectors kit and Amazon business price I believe is $366 on this. And yes, you will get better margins going through distribution or through directly with guardian. But as it's tried to build the confidence for yourself, I think that's the most convenient way to just buy it and give it a try.
Ron: Now, Matt, just aside from this awesome product, which I know you have to be proud of and you have a patent with your name on it for
Matt: Ron, I built a house and I have a patent, so I think I can.
Ron: You know, what is there left? You've got your own patent. That's pretty awesome. How do you balance your roles as a CTO for a product company and running an integration term? I know many integrators probably listening or watching or scratching their head going, how the hell does he do that?
Matt: I chose great partners eight years ago. And that really made a difference. You know, I initially started a business with two partners and really they made the magic happen in my integration business while I was fighting with China and Brazil developing a product. You know, when we joined, we thought, we know how the end results should look like. We know exactly what it means to have a good product and how a good product should function. We didn't know how to make the product. So I jumped in, I started talking to product development team, building the team together, and then interacting with Chinese manufacturers. The hardest part was the cultural difference between China, Brazil, and US and myself. I have Polish roots. So it was very difficult to manage three different cultures to work together. But overall I was lucky to be a part of to be part of a great team of very young and creative people that were not afraid to try and fail and try and fail. And that's where we got ourselves. I would say number the first on a market stand alone DIY, water damage mitigation product. There is a copy on the market that was trying to do the same thing, but it's hard to compare. And the rest of the solutions are in line. So it's but leveraging the tool companies it was very challenging and I would say the good thing is that China is awake at nights. So if my wife is watching this, she will probably that it's going to be a flesh bag because it's, it was a integrator during the day, China at night, integrated during the day, China at night. So and then there is Brazil that is two to four hours time difference. So it was just a grind for a period of time, but it wouldn't be possible without my partner, Camille and the great team that I had with me with Alexa.
Ron: No, that's, that's amazing. JJ did post a question. I think relating to the guardian, he's saying plastic pipe or copper/galvanized only?
Matt: Copper PVC or PEX whatever you have. If the guardian supports half an inch to inch and a quarter valve hidden hint hint later this year or beginning of next year we'll be coming up with the valve controller that supports the big big boy, a inch and a half valve. And for integrators guys, most of the homes that are above 5,000-7,000 square feet, they have an inch and a half valve and we internally are talking about making that inch and a half units exclusively available through Guardian Pros and not being, and not selling this through Amazon or retail stores. And and the margins and price on it is going to be little bit different. So we look at this as a way for isolating a line of products just for the pros highlighted with security and, and CI market. We are not sure yet how plumbing industry is going to react to it as they really don't have a lot of knowledge about wifi and technology. So I think this is going to be great opportunity for security and CI to take that and deploy the systems.
Ron: Just out of curiosity, do you know, I'm assuming you do, how many floods are there a year relating to? I guess it'd be floods in a home that cutting off the water main would have solved or eliminated the flood.
"Every day there is 14,000 claims reported to insurance companies every day. And I will give you my personal experience. I had five leaks in my house since I moved in and they damaged my walls, but I haven't reported a single one because I don't want to deal with any insurance."
Matt: The data is just blowing my mind every time I mention it. Every day there is 14,000 claims reported to insurance companies every day. And I will give you my personal experience. I had five leaks in my house since I moved in and they damaged my walls, but I haven't reported a single one because I don't want to deal with any insurance. It's just a stain on the wall. So why bother?
Ron: Hopefully your insurance company's not listening, right?
Matt: Yeah. I'm sure if I did it, they would, but it was just a hassle. So I just fixed it up and, or I, some of them I didn't, sorry honey. And so you can think about 14,000 a day. That is, there are process through insurance companies. That's probably double in real life. Number one cause of a leak in the home is a toilet valve or a toilet overflowing. And that's why we put the top tray on the elite detector to detect the water coming from the top. And there, the number two is the water heater. Number three is washing machine number four is furnaces. So I saw some people argued that putting leak detectors around your home, you will have to put 50 of them in order to cover for burst pipes are frozen pipes, but the majority of the leaks are your home are the appliances. Freezing pipes are fifth on the list. And we understand the importance of detecting flow. To detect the pinholes or broken pipes. But we thought that it was more challenging to do wireless sensors and then a DIY installation of the valve, controlling the valve, then the flow. So we started with the hardest part to prove to ourselves that we can do it and we understand that there are other solutions we have to focus on. Let me put it that way.
Ron: I see. And you mentioned flow. So potentially there's a flow meter coming down the line perhaps.
Matt: I mean it's one of the ways to detect water. So yes. So water damage is just outrageous. It causes more damage in us than theft and fire combined.
Ron: That's mind-boggling. And I mean this almost seems if integrators are watching or listening. Are you currently focusing or ever talking to your clients about flood or flood risk or water damage risk in the home? I mean, I'm imagining that it has been rare that I've heard that as an issue talked about, but yet it sounds like it's a multi multibillion-dollar issue that.
Matt: Me as an integrator, I never talk about it. It's, you know, you're too busy trying to sell Control4 against Sonos or convince them that they should get speakers here or there and, or do a home theater or telling them that the soundbar maybe not the right solution. And then new construction, you know, you confuse the client, he's blown away. And then, you know, you kind of have to say and bite away. What about water damage? So it's exhausting exercise, but Guardian is a perfect way to upsell to your existing client base. Just shooting a marketing email with, you know, and then there's this great company, One Firefly to shoot those emails with the right blogs and and it's an easy upsell, a quick couple hours installation and testing and you go on.
Matt: Awesome. All right. I'm going to completely jump topics here because believe it or not, we've already been talking for over 30 minutes. Can you, I told you it would go by fast. So I'm gonna change topics. I know as an integrator you are a Control4 dealer and you do a lot of Control4 business. And I just saw this in the news just a I think a day or two ago, today it was February 6th today or this is today, but I think I heard the news yesterday Control4 purchased the Swiss-based Neeo remote company. What were your thoughts on this?
Matt: I can look at it from two perspectives as a Control4 integrator and also as I mentioned, Domo Z-Wave line. And I have exhibited with these guys, Neeo or CS at four CEDIAs and I know them very well. I've seen them develop the product. I met the team, the engineering team personally and we had interacted and my opinion is that this is one of the best moves control for maiden in years. Not only these guys are calm very detailed oriented. They had their first beta version of the product years ago, but they, every CEDIA saw them. They said, no, not yet. It's not perfect enough. And when they released it, it was a blow. I was blown away by the quality of the product. We know that Control4 brand line is very flexible. And I would, we chose it because it's the most scalable solution. And we lacked that upsell over a good remote control. And we've been selling two or $3,000 remote control from Crestron to clients and they give you a great experience and there are people that are willing to pay that amount for a high end product control for. We never gave us that luxury. And I hope Neeo is going to be death products because the team knowledge and what they've done with this remote is, is mind-blowing. So I'm so looking forward to seeing this go live. Hopefully this year. I don't know.
Ron: Yeah. When are they supposed to make this available for dealers to?
Matt: They don't disclose. They don't disclose. I'm looking forward to it. That's it. Don't I think a lot of integrators would say that's why buy consumer grade product. I would say to all my fellow integrators don't panic. This is a great move. And it will give you another sell tool. It will give you a flexible control and move Control4 towards the next step.
Ron: Interesting. So that remote really fills a need that Control4 did not have an adequate solution for that effective handheld remote.
Matt: And then look at the initial design, the product design. And when you take it to your hand, it's like Apple product. It's very stiff, heavy beautiful design, very clear. UI is extremely nice. I think if they take those resources from Neeo and apply it in everyday product development for control for, I think we're going to see many fruits from that in the upcoming years of control for, so I'm very happy with that. Announcements.
Ron: Yeah. And JJ who's watching, by the way, JJ, thanks for commenting. And, and watching always appreciate your feedback. And he, he dropped the name here. Brett, I think Brett is the who is, Brett is Brett, the founder of Neeo is another name here. Rafael Schauble Heizer
Matt: He is young guy behind the development as well. I'm personally extremely bad with names. All my friends will tell you that it took me four years to remember Ron's name. So yeah,
Ron: Kept calling me the Firefly guy.
Matt: Yeah. Firefly and not even One, but Firefly. It took me four years to make you the number One Firefly.
Ron: I had to earn that. That took one. Appreciate that. All right. Kind of topics, Matt, I'd love to get your input on number one is what do you see here in 2019 as you know, what has you excited? Let me just keep it simple. What has you as an integrator excited about 2019?
Matt: No, I think a lot of people are concerned about the DIY market affecting our business. I'm so excited when I do sell pitches to clients. When I present them with idea of smart home, it's no longer me telling them, Oh, here's a smart doorbell. That's what it does. And they are wild. They can get a call on their phone. It's the idea of well, what about smart doorbell? And they say something like green. And I say, yes, exactly. And it's already educated the client, but you just have to show that there is a better product on the market and there is value in it. And I personally am very happy and very excited for the upcoming years of not fighting up the currents on the smart home and the technologies for home is there are billions of dollars dumped into marketing for relevant regular consumers to educate them. And believe me, if even if a consumer says, I don't need this, I can, you know, just buy wireless Sonos and Amazon Echo and LogiTech remote, they will come back in two years either to help them with the system or to,
Ron: Oh, you, you might be picking a fight with JJ here. JJ is watching. I know. JJs just corrected me. Said Brett is with logic tech. So I think Brett's a big LogiTech fan. So it might get exciting here in the next few minutes.
Matt: And I didn't say this in this meeting. I said a lot of consumers are trying to do it themselves and it's not unlike Sonos. I, I'm a big believer in Sonos, but not in a Sonos have a play one. And you know, Amazon Echo in a kitchen for music and the consumer doing it themselves and supporting it. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't develop a DIY guardian if I didn't believe in DIY products. I believe that even if a day it still requires a professional putting the system together, designing it properly, designing the wifi backbone, that it will support it all. And giving the customer supports. I don't think that DIY products are going anywhere. I think there will be more and more of them. But as integrators, we have a great opportunity to make money on the never stopping growing DIY market as the people are realizing that yes, you can cut the pipe in your house and do plumbing, but you don't do that. You call the plumber and yes, you can install your own universal remote control or Amazon. But maintaining that is so hard and time consuming that you will need somebody to do that for you. And that's what I'm excited about with this. We saw this in 2017 201818 and I think he's going to continue in '19. And a lot of those DIY products realized the importance of a CI market. And they will start releasing a product. There are upscale and introduce us with better troubleshooting diagnostic tools and probably better margins and maybe exclusivities and the market will adjust. They thought they can go the, I think the market thought that they can eliminate the integrator. But they will learn the other way in my opinion.
Ron: No, I agree. And JJ just posted a comment here. It says everyone designs for their audience, audience chooses options are healthy for our industry.
Matt: Exactly. Amen to that.
Ron: Yeah. I concur. Last question for you. Matt and, and of course if you have anything else you want to share, feel free. But you know, a lot of the audience here that listens either live or post-show or listens post show are integrators or people from the CI industry at varying, you know, positions or levels. Do you mind giving any advice, you, you've been at this both as an installer and as a business owner for a good number of years now. And what sort of advice or observations could you share with others that might maybe help them, give them some words of wisdom?
"Sit down with your team and work on the definition of your business."
Matt: And I would like to make a disclosure before I start that. No, Ron did not tell me to say this, but I will, I would like to I'm going through experience of defining goals and values for the company. And I always thought that's such a BS. And then you just put it on their website and then you forget about it for your clients to read. But after doing the exercise, defining the core values of the business, looking dand rethinking about the business and why I do what I do made a huge difference for myself and my partner. So I would say if you haven't done it yet, I'm sure, you know, I was late to the game as eight years in business, but if you haven't done it yet, talk on it and do this. I would sit down with your team and work on the definition of your business. Second thing, as I mentioned before, I think a lot of people are afraid or angry on DIY market. Don't be keep your head up and provide the best service and our, you know, your company will feel it too longterm. And I know our market is struggling with finding people, right technicians and I'll work force. Don't be afraid to give it a try to millennials let them, approach them. am a millennial myself. I know it's, it's exhausting and hard, to adapt. Tell me about it and, but there are ways of doing it and and just give a try and, you know don't panic. They have to adjust as well.
Ron: Sneaking in one more question Matt, and that is, I know that you and your partner have recently been going down this path of recalibrating your company finances and chart of accounts in order to use this. But I believe, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you're going down this path of adopting this kind of dashboard methodology of running your company finances. Can you just talk for a moment about that? Have you done that? How hard is it? Where are you at on that path?
Matt: We have, as I mentioned in the beginning, we have deployed D-Tools with details. We deployed new QuickBooks and we, when we deploy the new QuickBooks, we've done in a way where we can work with a reporting system. We had few discussions already with Steven Paul and we are very likely going to to work with them because we are hungry for data and understanding where are our profits going. Why have as much profits as we do have and expanding that. But at this moment we are just challenged with the changes. So we did all the changes I just described with branding in your last two months. So our business was highly affected by it. I think the clients are still waiting for proposals as we launched DTools. So we want to do it in stages, but..
Ron: So that's on your roadmap for 19.
Matt: And the team has been excellent. Jennifer you know, in that team, she's managing the QuickBooks deployments. She's a busy cookie but she's very knowledgeable in the industry and especially in QuickBooks. And there is no answer, no question she cannot answer. And for now, I did not interact with Paul and Steve Modge, but to what I know them, they are an excellent resource for knowledge, for building a business,
Ron: Amen. And I want to post is actually a nice long comment here on Facebook folks that I'm gonna throw up on the screen. It's long, so I don't know actually how well if I'm going to be able to throw that up there. Let's see. Boom. So I'm just giving a shout out to JJ and Chris. They do a weekly let's see here. We would love to get your feedback and engagement, 3:00 PM central Facebook, the Digital Ramble show and it's a great show. I've listened in to JJ and Chris a good number of times and it's always great content there. So if you're out there listening and watching, certainly check out their content. And if we need any more links we'll add them to the show notes. But on that note, Matt, thank you sir, for taking time out of your busy day. I know that talking pre-show you were maybe a little nervous is not the right word, but you were a little concerned about how it would be to be live and how do you feel it went? You feel that the last 45 minutes you survived?
Matt: You know, it's like carrying babies through fire. When I look at you, we have eye contact. You know, you can carry me through it, so it's always about you Ron.
"I think you're a perfect model of the American dream. Someone that's ready to hustle and work their butt off and achieve great things."
Ron: That's funny. I love it. Awesome. It's got a shout out here, so, all right Matt. Thanks buddy. I appreciate you taking time out of your busy day. You're, you're doing an awesome job there in a video, you and Camille and the team and of course with Guardian and Alexa and domes. You're a busy bee. I think you're a perfect model of the American dream. Someone that's ready to hustle and work their butt off and achieve great things. So I commend you and great job.
Matt: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for having me. And the same to you sir.
Ron: Oh, likewise. All right ladies and gentlemen, that is a wrap on show number 63. That was Matt from Avidia and, all the other exciting things that he's doing. And I do have we have a packed schedule this spring really now through the balance of the next I think three to four months we've got pretty solidly booked for Automation Unplugged guests. So my team's really been hustling. You know, I appreciate my day job One Firefly for sponsoring this show and enabling me to do this and my team over at One Firefly for really just doing such a standout job, particularly Elizabeth who does meet with a lot of the scheduling here with Automation Unplugged. So stay tuned. I am going to remind you in case you did not remember, we are now on Instagram. We just launched our Instagram back in September and we've got just around 440 people or so following us now on Instagram. So we keep that pretty active as well, of course, as our Facebook page. And always keep an eye on that. And on that note, if you want to find out more about One Firefly or you want to talk to me directly or talk to my team, there's our information, our website, and our phone numbers. And on that note, make it a great day. I appreciate you tuning in and I will see you next time. Thanks everyone.
Matthew Cwiokowski is an integrator who cofounded Avidia in 2011. Avidia is an integration firm based in Chicago. In 2015, Matt joined Elexa Consumer Products as their CTO, helping bring new technologies to the market. Some of the brands and products Matt has worked closely with include Guardian Leak Prevention System, and Dome, a line of Z-Wave products.
Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing in the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.